The undertaker arrived on time and I was a bit late. Sunday mornings without apple pie or a ‘vlaai’ was not a Sunday morning to my late mother. My sisters tried to phone me in the mean time… “Where are you?!”
In accordance to her life and the way she wanted to go on her last trip, all the steps were taken and the undertaker fully understood her and our wishes and needs. In an environment where the big players say what you should do, it is a welcome relief if you are going to work with a small player. Something that fits with our way of thinking, and what we did when we were still small players in the commercial field.
A simple coffin, a simple trim, a simple card, a large bouquet of red roses on behalf of the immediate family and no ribbons with a text. After the contract was signed, one sister went to the assisted living home to clear out Mum’s room and bring back some of the furniture, like the chair my Mum would sit in. My other sister went to see my brother with Down-syndrome, to support him in his grief and to tell him, as far as is possible, how her last hours had been.
In the program we have devoted time where, during the funeral service, he can bring his grief into words. Years ago he had already indicated that he wanted to play a special song, today he changed all that, he plays Abba Father on keyboard, because ‘this music brings solace’ in his own words,
Meanwhile I was writing envelopes, while my Dad was looking for the music that will be played. After several hours when all arrived back home we talked about our mother, the things she did and the impact it had on us. Like the time when during a row she packed a suitcase and walked out, to return 15 minutes later because she left her wallet behind and couldn’t go anywhere. Something my Dad forgot, but me and Big Sis still remember. Or when they, after 58 years of marriage, just 4 years ago, went on a Valentine’s Day weekend, something modern from America, as my Mum used to say. Or her just traveling with her kids, her little black book with special addresses always handy. And it didn’t matter if we sat with one cheek on a tiny chair in the Rue du Bac by one of Paris’s best pastry Chefs, or on a train journey to Munich in which I hadn’t been so close to her since birth, both our big fat asses squeezed in our second class seats.